UK branded inhuman for Chagos attitude

TREATMENT of Chagos islanders from the British Indian Ocean Territory, who have been refused permission by the British government to go home, has been described a “crime against humanity.

Graham Dines

TREATMENT of Chagos islanders from the British Indian Ocean Territory, who have been refused permission by the British government to go home, has been described a “crime against humanity.”

Around 2,000 residents were removed in the 1960s and 70s when Britain leased the island of Diego Garcia to the United States to use as a military base.

Richard Gifford, the lawyer who has led the islanders' legal battle, said their expulsion had “no parallel in modern times.” A report Returning Home, written by the former director of the Overseas Development Institute John Howell, has concluded that no valid environmental or economic reasons stand in the way of the return of 150 families.

Mr Gifford said: “If Gordon Brown seems slow to criticise the Chinese leadership for their human rights abuses in Tibet, perhaps he is worried by the mote in his own eye.

“For might he not be charged with the reproach that the treatment of the Chagos islanders is a crime against humanity?”

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The report proposes a Development Trust to coordinate public and private investment and a Resettlement Commission to manage applications to return. The total cost to the British Government is estimated at £25 million, including £17.5 million in capital costs and £7.5 million in technical assistance.

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